In Songwriting advice Part 2,
I expanded ideas regarding starting the songwriting process by
beginning with melody and chords first. Here I'll go into greater
detail with other processes to start with that I began in Songwriting techniques - Part 1.
By now, you have probably figured out that these three articles on
songwriting are on a more advanced level than is typical of songwriting
articles or most books. If the content you read below is deeper than
you are ready to understand right now, don't give up on it, perhaps in
the future you will be ready for these more advanced ideas. If you do
understand this material, great! Implement the ideas as you see fit for
Combine 2 or more completely different rhythmic ideas into a single
idea. Take two of your favorite rhythmic patterns and combine them into
a single idea.
Create a short rhythmic pattern one measure in length. Write it down
on paper. Now increase the value of each rhythmic event (note or rest).
Here is an example. Letís say you have this pattern: One quarter note,
two 8th notes, another quarter note, then four 16th notes. Now
"augment" all of these rhythmic notes by doubling their length.
Change all quarter notes to a half notes.
Change all 8th notes to quarter notes.
Change all 16th notes to eighth notes.
The example above now gives you a rhythmic pattern that is slower
and twice as long but using the same number of events and the exact
same pattern (just slower now).
This is the same concept as augmenting rhythmic values except now
you do the opposite. Shorten each rhythmic event, the result is the
same pattern but in shorter (faster) rhythmic values. Using the above
example, you would now:
Change all quarter notes to 8th note.
Change all 8th notes to 16th notes.
Change all 16th notes to 32nd notes.
Yep, it's cool. The examples above are pretty basic, because I told
you to either double the length (in the augment section) or cut in half
(in the diminish section) above. But there are cooler combinations such
as adding a dot after each note or change to triplets, these also can
be done with augmentation or diminution.
I wrote an article called Creativity and Expression (in 2 parts). In Songwriting techniques - Part 1,
I wrote about a concept called "Destructive Creation" Which I
personally find to be a fascinating subject. I purposely did not give
any examples of this process in that article so people would ponder the
concept and may think of original ways in which to use the Destructive
Creation. This concept has been extremely helpful to me when writing
some of the very progressive rhythmic ideas on my HESS ~ Opus 2 CD. I strongly recommend to read that article before reading any further. Here is the link, Creativity And Self Expression Part 1
Here is an example of Destructive Creation. Do this: Get a pencil,
eraser and a sheet of paper. Write down thirty-two 16th notes. (in 4/4
time this will be 2 measures of steady 16th notes). Now randomly erase
7 (or 11 or 14 or any other number) 16th notes. Now play the resulting
new rhythm on your instrument (you can also do this on a drum machine,
computer, etc. If you don't like the results, try erasing more or less
notes or change the order of the notes.
Once you have a new rhythmic idea that seems to have potential,
apply the other ideas on rhythm already discussed to this rhythm.
Augment the rhythmic values, diminish it, play it in retrograde (play
it backwards) or do some combination of these ideas, the possibilities
are endless. If none of these ideas seem to be helping you, it might be
because you have not yet written an interesting melody for these
rhythms. So begin composing new melodies, or chord progressions, or
riffs, etc. for these new rhythmic ideas. Then they will begin to come
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches
guitar players around the world via electric
guitar lessons online, Visit http://www.tomhess.net
to get free guitar playing
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